Phony Outrage and Senator Schumer

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made the following statement on the floor of the Senate last Tuesday. He was speaking in support of federal funding for stem cell research:

Substantively, there is no doubt this is the right thing to do. But I put it in a broader context. There is a group of people of deep faith. I respect that faith. I’ve been in enough inner city black churches, working class Catholic parishes, rural Methodist houses of worship and small Jewish synagogues to understand that faith is a gift. The trouble with this group, which I call the theocrats, is they want their faith to dictate what the government does. That, in a word, is un-American. That is exactly what the Founding Fathers put down their plows and took up muskets to fight.

Well, the part about faith being a gift is pretty silly. But otherwise I’d say that statement is pretty much self-evident, wouldn’t you?


Not so to the denizens of perpetually outraged American right. Here’s how the Catholic website Fidelis described it:

New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D- NY) unleashed a hate filled attack on religious Americans today arguing that opposition to embryonic stem cell research is “un-American”. During debate over whether to legalize the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of acquiring stem cells, Senator Schumer dismissed the many scientific and practical arguments against the destruction of human life and instead blasted opponents as “theocrats” who want religion to dictate government policy.

You have to wade through another paragraph just like that before the article gets around to telling you what Schumer actually said.

Town Hall columnist Paul Weyrich described things this way:

This statement is breathtaking in its bigotry. It is part of a campaign to portray the Religious Right as a group of fanatics who want to do away with the Constitution.

After this Weyrich goes on to pretend to believe that Schumer was labelling anyone of strong faith a “theocrat,” as opposed to a minority within the faith community generally. He closes by repeating the bigotry charge, in case you missed the point the first time.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue offered this bizarre response:

Senator Schumer needs to explain himself: Are those Christians who want the U.S. to back Israel at any cost ‘theocrats’? And when they invoke the Bible to justify their rabid support of Israel, are they–in your own words, Senator–using ‘their faith to dictate what the government does’? If not, why not?

I’m not sure what Donohue’s point is, but I’m pretty sure he’s angry.

In an article for the religious news site Spero News, we find the following:

“Senator Charles Schumer’s remarks were not just insulting to tens of millions of Americans of traditional Christian faith, but his words were down right menacing,” said National Clergy Council president, Rev. Rob Schenck. “For a US Senator to vilify a whole segment of the American population based on their religious convictions and then suggest fighting them with guns is frightening.”

Down right menacing. Golly!

The Christian News Wire also reported Schenk’s comments. Under the headline “National Church Leaders Demand Schumer Apology,” incidentally.

Tim Chapman of the Heritage Foundation is also outraged. He writes:

The story here is not just Schumer’s reckless use of the word “theocrat,” the real story is the vast array of people of faith that he is apparently comfortable tarring with his slander. For Schumer, anyone whose faith means enough to them that they are willing to fight for certain principles in the public square is “un-American.” Unfortunately, this is par for the course for the liberal from New York.

Chapman is also miffed that in a separate incident, Schumer asserted that moderate Americans hate creationism. Oh, and Chapman’s headline? “Schumer Takes on the Faith Community.”

Had enough? Schumer makes a perfectly obvious statement about certain religious extremists wanting to impose their views on others, and the right-wing blogosphere starts frothing at the mouth. Of course, it goes without saying that not a one of these people was genuinely outraged by Schumer’s remark. But these days phony outrage is the only thing the American right has to offer.

In the media it is very fashionable to describe liberal bloggers as “angry,” with the implication that this is a euphemism for “crazy.” But the fact is when it comes to delusional misdirected rage, liberals have nothing on the braying lunatics of the right.

Comments

  1. #1 Sastra
    July 25, 2006

    Are those Christians who want the U.S. to back Israel at any cost ‘theocrats’? And when they invoke the Bible to justify their rabid support of Israel, are they–in your own words, Senator–using ‘their faith to dictate what the government does’?

    Um… isn’t the answer here an obvious “yes?” I would say that backing a policy “at any cost” and giving it your “rabid support” because YOUR holy scripture says so is exactly what it means to allow your “faith to dictate what the government does.” And they should know that is a no-no.

    Americans have a convenant with each other to refrain from using matters of personal faith to form policies which make sense only to others in the same faith. Since nobody is impressed with other people’s “false gods,” it is only fair to not do to others what you would not want done to yourself. See how happy these same people would be if a general law or governmental policy founded on the truth of the Book of Mormon managed to get passed.

    From what I can tell, most of the opposition to stem-cell research seems to be based on the idea that undifferentiated stem-cells are “little persons.” Scientifically speaking, that’s too far a stretch. To make that plausible pretty much seems to require ensoulment and a divine plan.

  2. #2 steve s
    July 25, 2006

    Are those Christians who want the U.S. to back Israel at any cost ‘theocrats’? And when they invoke the Bible to justify their rabid support of Israel, are they–in your own words, Senator–using ‘their faith to dictate what the government does’?

    I’ll take ‘true by definition’ for $1000, Alex.

  3. #3 Julia
    July 26, 2006

    “Of course, it goes without saying that not a one of these people was genuinely outraged by Schumer’s remark.”

    I don’t understand. They sound pretty angry to me. How do you know that none was really outraged?

  4. #4 386sx
    July 26, 2006

    Senator Schumer needs to explain himself: Are those

    Christians who want the U.S. to back Israel at any cost ‘theocrats’? And when they invoke the Bible to justify their rabid support of Israel, are they–in your own words, Senator–using ‘their faith to dictate what the government does’? If not, why not?

    I wouldn’t know, but I’ll bet Donohue is alluding sarcastically to something that Schumer has said about Israel or something. Donohue couldn’t possibly be that looney.

  5. #5 Belathor
    July 26, 2006

    I wouldn’t know, but I’ll bet Donohue is alluding sarcastically to something that Schumer has said about Israel or something. Donohue couldn’t possibly be that looney.

    He seemed that looney on the Colbert Report yesterday…

  6. #6 adspar
    July 27, 2006

    Any suggestions where I can find the full transcript of Schumer’s remarks?

  7. #7 adspar
    July 27, 2006

    aha! found it:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r109:8:./temp/~r109CcRf1d:e172437:

  8. #8 Emanuel Goldstein
    July 28, 2006

    The anti Israel lobby is all about hating Jews.

    Who ya kiddin?

  9. #9 Roadtripper
    August 1, 2006

    “It is part of a campaign to portray the Religious Right as a group of fanatics who want to do away with the Constitution.”

    And once again, bits and pieces of my ruined irony meter lie about the smoke-filled room, as my ears ring from its explosive demise. Time to hook up another one….

    What is it with these people, anyway?

  10. #10 The Ridger
    August 16, 2006

    And the pro-Israel lobby is largely about Armageddon.

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